I am constantly reminded of how great a joy it is to have two handsome, healthy children. About a year ago, Vanessa, Ethan, Aaron, and I were in Guitar Center. We were doing some reconstruction on our stage at church, and I took my family to look for some microphone cable to run underneath the stage. We had been there for about 30 or 45 minutes, and the boys had been excellent. But you know how little boys are – they started to get bored.
If you’ve never been to guitar center, men, you are missing out on one of the great pleasures in life. There are so many instruments to pick up and play, drums to hit, cymbals to crash, and buttons to push… it’s like a massive candy store for men. Even if you’re not musical, it’s fun just to go push the buttons and drool on the electronics. Well, Aaron (three years old at the time) had resisted long enough.
There was a giant mixing board which controlled four massive speakers in a little tiny room. Soft music was playing in the background as people were shopping and dreaming. This sound board was invitingly positioned in the center of this relatively small room. Vanessa, Ethan, and I were at the checkout desk in the same room – me, a little perturbed by the amount of time it was taking. All of a sudden, I hear the music getting louder and louder and LOUDER!!! And very soon, it was so loud I thought my eardrums were going to bleed. In a split second, all kinds of thoughts raced through my mind… “That’s loud enough, you idiot!” “I can’t concentrate – turn that mess down!” “Whoever is doing that needs to be kicked out of this store!”
So I turn around in anger and frustration to see my handsome, healthy three year old Aaron with his fingers on the yellow “Main” sliders of this mixing board in the center of the room. The other hand had become a plug for his left ear, and his eyes were ten times the size they normally are. So I did what any good, calm parent would do. I yelled at him. And then it clicked, “Oh, he doesn’t know he’s making the music do that…” So I raced over to the mixing board, grabbed his hand and threw it off the sliders, and abruptly turned the music down to a more sensitive level. I don’t know if Aaron was more in shock because of the loud music or my evil-penetrating eyes that had become fixated on his childlike innocence. After a few seconds of bewildered speechlessness, I looked up to meet the eyes of three different couples who still had their hands over their ears and their jaws on the ground.
“I’m so sorry,” I mustered up. Making eye contact with each individual… But none of them said a word – or even moved for that matter. I told myself their reaction was probably because they couldn’t hear me… then I had one of those light-bulb moments. First of all, I hadn’t been watching my three-year-old son – he could’ve been anywhere in the store at all. Secondly, I had been so frustrated with the amount of time my trip was taking, and my perceived incompetency of the staff, yet my child was the one who made everyone else’s shopping experience horrendous that day. And lastly, I looked back to see my three year old Aaron resembling a frightened little puppy-dog in the corner, who had just been beaten by his unforgiving master. My ears hurt. My pride hurt. But that was no excuse to let loose on Aaron the way I did. I held him for a while. He’s such a blessing – my reaction was my problem, not his.
Psalm 127:3-5a says:
In that moment, I forgot that God had blessed me with these two adorable children. They are a heritage from the Lord. A reward of which I am obviously unworthy.
As I continually reflect on what this passage means, I am reminded that arrows in the hand of a warrior are not very productive, useful, or valuable if a few things do not become reality.
1. These arrows have to be constantly cared for. If the same arrows sit in a quiver for eighteen years, unattended, un-oiled, and largely neglected, their feathers will fray, their points will dull, and their shafts will bend or become weak. My children are needy and deserving of my constant attention, affection, and direction.
2. It is one thing for arrows to be in a quiver. It is something completely different for them to be “in the hand of the warrior.” The warrior who hold arrows in hand is ready for battle. His arrows are not just “with” him. They are part of him. Without him, the arrows would be useless. And without them, he would be weapon-less. If his arrows are not in hand, he’s not really an arrow-wielding warrior. He’s just a guy who owns some sticks with points and feathers on them. Children are an extension of who we are as parents. It is impossible to be good parents without children. I have to hold them “near and dear.” It’s not the rest of the people in Guitar Center that need my apology, attention, empathy, and affection the most. It’s Aaron. It’s Ethan. They, for this period of time, are a part of who I am.
3. At some point, the warrior will have to let the arrow fly. If he holds his arrows in hand, or in quiver, and never lets them fly, he has done an injustice to what they are and their inherent purpose. The day will come. At some point, my boys will be ready to fly. I’m actually tearing up just thinking about it. Will I have trained them astutely? Will I have cared for them sufficiently? Will I have wielded them truthfully? It’s difficult for me to think about right now, but one day, these handsome, healthy arrows my God has blessed me with will be ready to fly. Their time will come, and I will not be a true warrior if I don’t let ’em fly.
I have the best two little boys in the world. I’m thankful for every second God gives me with them. And I pray that He gives me the wisdom to be thankful, the ability to be educative, the passion to be effective, and the faith to be obedient. Thank you, Lord, for Ethan and for Aaron.
Grace and Peace,